Sandy over at Oklahoma Transient wrote, a day or so ago, about a tornado that occurred in her area recently. It brought back memories for me of a couple of tornadoes we experienced when living in Illinois.
The worst one happened one year in early spring. At the time, my husband and I had been married for only a couple of years and were living in a 14' x 16' cabin on twenty wooded acres we owned with his parents out in the middle of farmland. We were also driving fifty miles morning and night each week day to and from the town where I worked and he was finishing his college degree.
We usually got home around six each evening and on this particular day, we were a couple of miles from home when we began noticing unusual things.
A farm house on the left side of the highway had all the singles torn off one side of the roof. We commented that since the weather had been unsettled lately, it was risky business to start a re-roofing job.
The next structure down the road was missing its whole roof and the big barn was leaning at a precarious angle.
We looked at each other and without saying a word, realizing something bad had happened.
Proceeding along and getting closer to home, we turned off the main highway onto a short gravel road which connected to our own country road. Talk about feeling as if we'd entered the Twilight Zone. At the junction of the highway and gravel road was Fredrickson's farm. Or at least it was where Fredrickson's farm was supposed to be. For a couple of seconds, we didn't know where we were. The two-story farmhouse, the huge barn, the silos, all the various outbuildings, all the big old trees were . . . gone. The land was perfectly flat.
As we neared the turnoff onto our road, we saw a very strange object in the field off to our left. It looked like a huge piece of twisted metal. As we got closer we saw the coloring was black and yellow. It was what had been a school bus. Our neighboring family had a five-year old son who rode that bus.
As we turned right onto our road, we felt some relief that the farm where the young boy lived looked as if it had sustained no damage. A short mile down the road we turned into our own property, stopped in a hubby's parents' house and were updated on the storm that had passed through a few hours earlier.
The tornado had gone down the opposite side of the road from our property which was so fortunate for us, not so much so for the farms and dwellings on that side.
The one most damaged was the farm of two elderly brothers and a sister who lived on and worked the old family farm. The three of them made it into their root cellar but they lost most everything including many of their animals who had been out on pasture.
My father-in-law was coming home farther on down that same road when the tornado hit. He was just ready to get out of his car and take shelter down under a concrete bridge over a small creek when he saw a farm tractor fly across the road a ways ahead of him. Then, as quickly as that, the tornado was gone and he continued on home albeit with shaking hands on the steering wheel of the car.
Even though we personally suffered no damage from the tornado, needless to say there was a wide-spread area affected and much rebuilding to be done.
The wreckage of the school bus we had seen in the field? Praises were heaped upon that bus driver. He saw the funnel cloud coming and rather than trying to outrun it, he got all of the kids off the bus, down into the ditch beside the road, told the bigger kids to get on top of the little ones to protect them, and for them all to lie as flat as they could. Only one child was hurt . . . a broken arm when hit by a piece of flying debris.
Tornadoes were one of the things we were glad to leave when we moved to northern Minnesota. Even though we have plenty of strong winds up here that always make my nerves jumpy, we're very glad not to live in tornado country anymore.
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